Not with a bang but with a whimper – Training for Colfax

Tonight I ran my final training run before Sunday. I’ll run for 15 minutes or so on Saturday, but other than that, it’s done. Other than that pesky 13.1 mile race.

This is the second time I’ve trained to run a half marathon, and I’m more or less a seasoned runner now (I am being sarcastic, but I also recognize that I have actually made huge strides to improve my lifestyle). Here are a few discoveries I’ve made this time around:

1) When your all-wise runkeeper training plan tells you to run a certain pace you should probably stick with that even though you can go faster. I’m not sure what I was trying to prove or who I was trying to impress, but I kind of wish I would’ve peaked right around now rather than March.

2) No need to be a hero when you’re sick. Once again, I am running this race in honor of no one, without anything riding on it, and I have absolutely nothing to prove. I should’ve taken some time off when I got sick instead of running through the coughing. Although, I’m still kind of proud of running while I was sick and making myself sicker. Weirdo.

3) Expensive socks are worth it. I actually got my pairs as a gift from my room mom, and I really struggle to wear anything else. They prevent blisters and rubbing and somehow my feet are always the perfect temperature when I wear my feetures socks. I may love them too well…as my father realized when he pulled my crusty socks out of my shoes to toss down for me to wash. “You don’t wash your socks after every run?” he asked, with a note of horror and disgust in his voice. “Nope.”

4) No one’s actually watching/judging you. I was so self-conscious when I started running a year and a half ago that I would run only in the early morning. I didn’t want to run with other people, and I didn’t want to run with family members. But after doing it enough, I started to realize that most people aren’t watching from their porches or cars with speedometers pointed at my plodding feet. Although, truly, I’ve found most people to be kind and supportive. There’s a sweet, older couple on the first mile of my route that I often cross paths with in the late afternoon. They always cheer me on and tell me to stay fit. I love the obligatory wave you give other runners as you trot along. Turns out that once again, I am my harshest critic.

5) There’s no contemplative state quite like that of running. I am so easily distracted at home or at school. I start a task and then check my email, or add yet another 1930s chick lit book to my amazon cart, or go eat more teacher breakfast (we’ve had breakfast everyday this week, and it’s amazing!). But when I’m running I’m kind of stuck with my self and my audiobook. I sort through problems as I run (what matching outfits can we wear for the last week of school and how can I fix the problems in the American educational system), or I have to focus so hard on putting one foot in front of the other. Either way, it’s an escape from my usual distractedness.

6) I think I can run a marathon now. I’m not one hundred percent sure that I will, but I think I have the tools to make it happen. Although, mostly I just want to suddenly wake up faster so that if I do decide to run a marathon it won’t take me a thousand years.

7) I try no to take this for granted. “Reason not excuses” has become my mantra. I also try to tell myself that I get to run. I don’t have to do this at all, but it’s my privilege. I have the leisure time to run. I live in a safe country in a safe neighborhood. While I never want to be reckless about my safety, it’s not lost on me that in many places and cities in the world I wouldn’t be able to head out my front door for a run. And maybe it’s the Prussian/Scandinavian bones, but my body holds up pretty well to running. I mean, there are the usual aches and pains but just when I was convinced I had a stress fracture in my left foot,  I loosened my laces a little bit. Problem solved. And once again, injury free. Seriously though, I have never had stitches, broken a bone, or pulled a muscle. Good genes.

I really really want to run well on Sunday. I’ve put in a lot of work and time into training, but I guess at the end of the day “the prize goes to the man in the arena.”  Malcolm Gladwell writes about the risk of working hard. If you never work hard at anything, you always have an excuse for failure. It’s so much more daring to work hard for something. If you fail, what do you fall back on? There are no lies/excuses with which to comfort yourself. You’ve been tried and found wanting. I know this is just a race that I’ve paid to run (slightly ridiculous), but I’ve struggled with this my entire life. I’ve always been afraid of working really hard and failing because then I would know for sure that I wasn’t good enough. Perhaps this is too gloomy, but I am trying to accept the risk of working hard and the humility of recognizing that even with all my hard work things may be out of my reach. Wish me luck.

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